What Rights Do Nursing Home Residents Have?

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In 1987, the Nursing Home Reform Act was signed into law in an effort to ensure that residents of nursing homes received quality care. The Act includes a bill of rights for residents and specifies required resident services that nursing homes must provide, as well as the required standards for those services. The Nursing Home Reform Act was a response to a disturbing survey in 1986, which showed that nursing home residents were being abused, neglected, or provided with inadequate care.

Since then, both federal and state governments have worked to improve the standard of care for every nursing home resident. Residents are entitled to receive periodic assessments and be provided with a comprehensive care plan that includes multiple basic services, such as nursing, pharmaceutical, rehabilitation, and dietary needs. For facilities with more than 120 beds, a full-time social worker must also be available.

Nursing Home Reform Act

The 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act established the Resident’s Bill of Rights, which grants those living in a nursing home the right to:

  • Freedom from abuse, mistreatment, and neglect
  • Freedom from physical restraints
  • Privacy
  • Accommodation of medical, physical, psychological, and social needs
  • Participate in resident and family groups
  • Be treated with dignity
  • Exercise self-determination
  • Communicate freely
  • Participate in the review of one’s care plan and to be fully informed in advance about any changes in care, treatment, or change of status in the facility
  • Voice grievances without discrimination or reprisal

In addition, the law also prescribes unannounced surveys to verify that nursing homes are staying compliant to the Nursing Home Reform Act requirements. These surveys will analyze the overall condition of the residents in terms of quality of care, quality of life, resident’s rights, and services provided to them. If the survey results reveal that the nursing home is out of compliance, an enforcement process begins.

What Remedies Are There?

The remedies for non-compliance vary depending on the severity of the deficiency, on whether it was an isolated incident or found to be common practice throughout the facility, and on whether it puts a resident in jeopardy. Remedies may range from directed staff training and state monitoring to denial of payment for all Medicare and Medicaid patients and termination of the provider agreement.
Since the Act was signed into law, many states have also adopted a resident’sbill of rights and created measures to protect nursing home residents at the state level. State agencies will also investigate nursing homes for compliance, and residents have the right to access the results of each inspection.

Who Can Assist You?

If you are looking for a nursing home for an aging loved one, it is important to do your due diligence and check with your state’s health department to understand the applicable bill of rights for where you live. You can also recruit the help of an elder law attorney, who can assist you in finding the highest quality, accredited nursing homes in your area. Crow Estate Planning and Probate, PLC provides elder law services and counseling for seniors and their families, and we have a team of skilled Clarksville estate planning attorneys who know how to handle the needs of the elderly and who are ready to help your family care for your aging loved one. Contact us to learn more.

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